A museum tour

Ladies in White - Musee d'Art et d'Histoire de Geneve  #mahgeneve

My numerous visits at Parisian museums reminded of an interesting fact that homo sapiens would not die not having music, or art. However, it is in the nature of human beings to express and to contemplate others’ expression through art.

Being in Paris, I had the chance to see such expression throughout history. Just start with the Renaissance, in which artists, philosophers and scientists (European) suddenly discovered the old glory time in Rome and in Greece, through the translation from Arab (golden age) books. They started to study painting, science, philosophy rigorously. Scientific method started to take form. This is definitely one of the most important discovery in our history. In art, Italian painters started to paint the real life with such an artistic, but realistic style. This school of thought led to French Classicism. Definitely David, Ingrid are among the best representative (Musee du Louvre). The rigidity of Classicism, combining with the rebellious spirit of young artists in Paris created Impressionism. Form were still there, but expressed in much more ‘libre’ style. Details were not important anymore, as we can see in Monet’s or Renoir’s work (Musee d’Orsay, Musee de l’Orangerie). Then come the late Impressionism movement, in which Cezanne would be an excellent example, where form became the center point of expression. Innovation in artist mind as well as in artist’s materiel leads painting to a new level of abstraction (Musee d’Orsay). But we can still see a painting of Cezanne and realize what he draw without much of hesitation. The cubism school takes the initatative formed by Cezanne and create a mind-blowing painting, so they thought. Picasso and Bragg’s work in these years can be seen at the Pompidou (Centre Pompidou). And from that, avangarde art became something completely detached from human vision and conventional perception. Overtime, it involved more and more provocative and absurd ideas, not just abstract. Monochromes of Yves Klein, or Pollock’s drip-painting are few of some exceptionally famous of the movement (Centre Pompidou). Contemporary arts evolve into many other schools. A painting of a well-defined form, or even Painting it-self, has become too main-stream…

In the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

* The first picture on top was taken in Geneve Museum of Fine Art, I call the picture “Ladies in White”. The second picture right above was taken in the Boston Museam of Fine Art, which has a strong collection of Impressionism, Pissaro, Monet, Renoir, even Bazille. This particular picture is however the Classicism section. The third picture at the bottom was taken at MOMA in New York, les Demoiselles d’Avignon of Picasso. This one is call “S’observer”. None of these pictures is from Parisian Museum.

S'Observer #picasso #moma

Le contraste du Tech

Le contraste du tech

La photo a été prise en 2010 par moi-même lors d’un stage d’étude au Vietnam. Avec cette photo, je tiendrais à faire comprendre le mot « contraste » dans le sens figuratif. La photo montre une femme qui vend des fruits dans la rue, tout en utilisant un smartphone. La barre située devant la femme est un « don ganh », un outil utilisé pour porter les « quang ». Dans l’arrière-plan, on voit bien un distributeur de billets. Les contrastes sont au cœur de cette photo. Le premier, et plus direct, est le contraste entre les outils qu’utilise la dame, la barre de bambou et le téléphone. Le premier est un outil qui est utilisé depuis des générations au Vietnam, tandis que le dernier est une invention du 21ème siècle. Ce premier contraste dévoile le deuxième, un contraste que tous les pays du Sud sont en train d’expérimenter : le contraste entre « l’ombre du passé », avec les moyens de production peu efficaces, basée sur le travail des petits commerçants et paysans locaux, avec un mode de vie plutôt tranquille, et « la lumière du futur », représentée par des outils modernes, fabriqués par des multinationales, impliquant des chaînes logistiques globalisées, qui permettent la communication instantanée, donc une vie rapide et connectée.

Ces contrastes ne sont en aucun cas une menace pour la population locale. Au contraire, c’est un signe d’optimisme. Malgré la nostalgie d’une vie tranquille du passé, on n’oublie pas que c’était aussi une vie dure, dans une société fermée et ultra-conservative. Dans les pays en voie de développement, il y a une véritable soif de progrès, de modernité et de connexion avec le reste du monde. Paradoxalement, c’est dans ces pays-là, comme le Vietnam, que les nouvelles technologies sont adaptées le plus rapidement. Comme montré sur la photo, la dame n’est pas triste, elle sourit. Un sourire portant bien l’espoir d’un futur lumineux.

Enfin, la scène de la photo est pour moi un message fort : l’avancement de la science et de la technologie pourrait apporter des bénéfices aux gens même dans les coins les plus obscurs du monde. La participation des chercheurs et ingénieurs à l’amélioration des conditions de vie des gens en difficulté n’est pas réservée seulement à ceux qui se déplacent sur place, mais aussi à ceux qui travaillent tous les jours dans les laboratoires.

To Federica: how I prepare coffee with a Vietnamese filter

Dear Federica,

There are thousands of manuals you can find on the Internet about the making coffee with a Vietnamese coffee pot. As I told you earlier, this kind of filter was imported to Vietnam during the French colonial era, as well as the coffee as a drink in general, and it has not evolved ever since. I don’t know if it is the best way to prepare coffee, but coffee made by this kind of pot can be delicious. I use my Vietnamese pot during the weekend, because I have time to wait for the coffee, otherwise, I use an Italian Moka Smile

I made coffee following the steps:

1. Preparation: boil water, and in the mean time, put coffee into the pot. I put 3 spoon of coffee like showing in the image below for a full pot, and I happy with this concentration. Although being quite simple, the Vietnamese pot is quite efficient in coffee extraction, and the coffee made can be strong.



2. Then cover the coffee with the top filter. Remember to press hard enough so that the coffee is closely packed with uniform height Smile I have a trick for this: after pressing the top filter strongly, I put a little bit of hot boiling water into the pot, just enough for all the coffee to be wet, then wait for 1 minute. There might be something to do with the percolation theory (the coffee grains swell and get bigger), so that I can press a little bit harder, and the packing feels more strong.




3. Then fill the pot with boiling water. You can go ahead filling even above the top filter.



4. Another trick: when the whole pot is filled, I use a spoon to press on the top filter to remove totally the air trapped inside the pot, to make sure that water penetrates all percolated paths Open-mouthed smile.



5. Finally cover the pot. Now it comes the waiting game. Not much to do here, either you can enjoy the formation of the droplets and watch the coffee droplets fall, if you use a transparent cup, or listening to the noise the droplet makes when it hit the coffee (believe it or not, this is a source of aspiration for many songs and poems in Vietnam: watching the coffee droplets fall! See you relaxed we Vietnamese are).  Me, I go doing something else.



6. Now enjoy your coffee. Note that since it may takes 5 minutes for the coffee to be made, some people put the whole cup-filter in a bowl filled of hot water to keep the coffee warm. It seems to me a good idea, but I don’t do it because normally I finish the coffee before it cools down.

I hope that this manual will be useful. The percolation related contents are purely speculation. Besides, mind you that my parents in Vietnam use the Italian moka more often than the Vietnamese brewer.

Give peace a chance / Ma conviction profonde

Most of human history consists of traveling, discovering, going out the of the comfort zone and challenging their fate. Of course I do not just mention the recent several thousand years, during which the idea of “settlement” begins to take root. I talk about the first million years of the homo sapiens as a big family.

We all come from East Africa!

Provocative as it seems, the latter statement has been backed by scientific reasoning, and this is the most believable theory up to date. Hence, migration has played a big part in our common history.

From a single source, the growing society has tried several ways to separate our big family into “labels”. From the the very obvious appearance categories as black, white, then geographic sets like Asian, European, American,  and to more sophisticated abstract groups as Jews, Christian, deism, Marxists, capitalists. The list goes on.

In this process of classification, a key notion disappears, the very notion that we all belong to a single race, having the same ancestors (once again, not about 2000 years, but a million years ago). Too many wars, too many killing, too many massacres in the name of such “labels”.

Of course, “labeling” works, but apparently only for a minority of the population, who manipulate “labels” so good that the majority of the population forget our big family.

We are like each other more than they want us to believe. And the minority of us have created such huge problems that the rest at the moment have to stand together as a big family. Or we will extinct as individuals.

Give peace a chance !